Following changes to the North American League, Riot announced that they want to make EU LCS more profitable and stable for participating teams, as well as more attractive for viewers.
According to Riot’s plans, the 2018 season should be a transition period with the long-term goal of EU LCS converting to a franchise model in 2019.
First, Riot decided to get rid of the best-of-three matches which were introduced last season. At first the innovation was welcomed by the community, but later it turned out that it made it harder to follow EU LCS for people who don’t have enough time to watch all matches. Riot decided that there were too many content and reverted all matches to be best-of-one. Starting from Spring 2018, EU LCS will be a single league with double round-robin format and Bo1 matches. Moreover, from now on there will be a new schedule – the matches will be played only on Fridays and Saturdays, which were found to be the most comfortable days to watch the league.
Riot want to make the scene more stable for the organizations, for this purpose they are removing mid-season relegations so the team owners will feel more secure investing in the scene. This is the first step towards Riot’s plans of partnering with teams in 2019.
It is common knowledge that some teams struggle financially. While it’s only a temporary solution, Riot will provide extra financial support for EU teams, as well as introducing new ways of income, such as viewership bonus – to put it simply, if an organization brings more viewers to the stream, it gets more money.
Instead of Challenger Series, which was a league for tier-two teams, Riot will introduce a new pan-European tournament involving local country teams. There will be various local competitions, and top teams will qualify for a major pan-European tournament held twice a year. In theory, it should give a chance for local teams to show good performance and advance to the top-tier competitions.
Although Riot didn’t provide specifics, 2019 is the year when they want to convert EU LCS to a franchise model. Similar to other franchise leagues, Riot will select organizations to become their partners. They will have to make a financial contribution to enter the league, in return they will get more rights and influence over the league, as well as more ways of income.